Monday, July 9, 2012

Recent reviews

Okay - I realized I haven't posted any reviews in, um, ages. So a quick few:

Cabin in the Woods - I have mentioned Cabin on here briefly. But again, if you missed it in theaters, you owe it to yourself to check it out on video. Even if you don't like horror films. It isn't as scary as Scream (if it is particularly scary at all). It is, however, very, very clever and amazingly fun. Seriously - SO MUCH FUN. There's a reason it made the CriticWire top 10 for the first half of the year.

The Avengers - We've all seen this, yes? As I wrote to relatives; "It's awesome. Joss Whedon did a really good job with the characters and it was very fun. It has a perfect A+ cinemascore and an 86% from top critics on rotten tomatoes. I have noticed that a few people who didn't completely love it were mainly the ones who hadn't seen Thor beforehand. I don't think you need to have seen any of them, but if you were to see one going in, I'd recommend Thor, just because the villain carries over."

Red Rock West - Indie western noir with Nicolas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle, Dennis Hopper and JT Walsh. Really fun, super well-made, and a great soundtrack. Arizona stands in for Wyoming and it has some great cinematography. It was clearly made by people who enjoy movies. Definitely check it out.

Mysteries of Lisbon - I couldn't get through this. It was lush, it was beautiful. The melodrama was just more than I could handle on that particular day.

General Orders No. 9 - I'm not sure I'll be able to describe this well. What I've heard it referred to most often is a tone poem. It's a meditation on one county in Georgia using various maps and local history. It has some incredibly lovely sequences and some really interesting animation. It meanders a bit and it is definitely an ART film, but I enjoyed it overall.

Take Shelter - I think I heard too many good things about this before seeing it. The acting was really good, but not the revelation I was expecting. Michael Shannon stars as a man who is either seeing premonitions of the end of the world or is becoming schizophrenic. Jessica Chastain co-stars as his wife.

Dark City (Director's Cut) - This was fun and very stylish. Neo-noir sci-fi. Rufus Sewell wakes up to find he is being hunted by pale men for serial murders. It's a great bit of world building. It seems like a lot of other cyberpunk films were influenced by it - including the Matrix. Probably Inception. Also, the lead pale man looked so familiar I kept wondering who he was the entire film. Turns out it is Richard O'Brien - Riff Raff!

Prometheus - Well. I went in with the wrong expectations here. I was expecting a horror film, as I've heard Alien is (I've seen Aliens and not Alien. I know, I know.) And it isn't. Although there is one bit of body horror that is perfection. I think there was a real lack of character development, which hindered the film. Aside of David (Michael Fassbender) passing the time while everyone else is in stasis. It's really a film about searching for answers and what is knowable, with some fun sci-fi thrown in. If I had understood more about where any of the characters were coming from, it would have been a great film.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Ah. I was *little* disappointed. Wah-wah. It was fun in a lot of parts and I probably had my expectations too high. I think I liked Wanted better because it was a little more winking. And I understand why they played it straight, because at some point, it is ABRAHAM LINCOLN fighting VAMPIRES. That said, there are some fantastic set pieces. The train set, the ballroom - Timur really can film action sequences well. There's one scene in stampeding horses where the CGI really wasn't up to snuff, but the rest of the killing played well. The movie is the most fun when Dominic Cooper is around, because he seems to be having the most fun. (spoiler alert: chalk another one up for the conflicted vampire team! Between Louis, Angel, Spike, Mitchell (x2), Bill, and Sparklepants, pretty soon they'll be able to form a soccer team!)

John Carter- this was so close to being awesome. There were clearly a few mistakes in terms of pacing and plot reveal that came from either the first time live director or studio interference on such a large investment. But Lynn Collins is pretty great and woola is the best ever.

Scottsboro Boys - Brilliant. The final Kander and Ebb musical. It uses the construct of a minstrel show to tell the story of the Scottsboro Boys (much the way Cabaret uses cabaret and Chicago uses vaudeville.) Susan Stroman directed and choreographed. It only lost choreography because of Anything Goes tap number, but in any other year it would have won. And the staging was inventive and original. I understand the people probably stayed away for the subject matter, but it's really unfortunate. It is so well done, but I think people prefer thinking about race relations when in play form, rather than musical. I don't think Caroline or Change did well at the box office either.

My only quibble is that it ends with Rosa Parks, which comes across as a cheap way to get a standing ovation. There is a historical reason - apparently Rosa Parks' husband campaigned for the Scottsboro Boys, BUT... it is so good, it would get a standing ovation anyway.

I did also see Danny Boyle's Frankenstein, which was really, really good. As with all the NT Live shows, I have to hope they'll start making them available on DVD at some point, as I've missed a number I'd really like to watch (particularly Derek Jacobi as Lear at the Donmar Warehouse.) I ended up seeing it twice - and I preferred the one with Johnny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor. Some of the shots were better and I think Cumberbatches does the posh thing better than the creature thing. I was incredibly impressed with Johnny Lee Miller - I don't like

Otherwise, I've been devouring The Good Wife (Love. Love love love.), and I started Battlestar Galactica, which is pretty good. I tried watching Sports Night, and just COULD NOT get into it. I don't see why it is more beloved than Studio 60. 

I missed a new restoration of Grand Illusion at the Castro, as well as The Deep Blue Sea and Sound of My Voice. Sadness. To add to queue. Lots coming up in the next week, including Beasts of the Southern Wild, Spider Man, and some films at the Silent Film Festival. Oh, and the new staging of Les Mis. Whee!

No comments: